Posts Tagged ‘Locomapa’

INDIGENOUS TOLUPANES JOIN THE INDIGNADOS HUNGER STRIKE IN TEGUCIGALPA

June 29, 2015

PUBLIC COMMUNIQUE

Original Spanish version on: http://redefensorashn.blogspot.com/2015/07/indigenas-tolupanes-se-unen-la-huelga.html

Tegucigalpa, June 29, 2015

madj huelga

We members of the Tribe of San Francisco de Locomapa, declare that we are on HUNGER STRIKE INDEFINITELY, assuming the struggle of the indignados who are fed up with so much corruption, made all the more evident and offensive with the sacking of the Social Security system. We are also highly distressed by extreme levels of corruption in the department of Yoro. This will only stop with the removal and prosecution of functionaries involved in the biggest and and most shameful criminal action against the public welfare and the collective property of the Tolupan people in the department of Yoro.

Corruption on the part of the current government and of those preceding it, has dispossessed and sunken the poorest of Honduras into misery. The impact on the Tolupan people has resulted, more than in any other sector of the population, in total abandonment in terms of healthcare, education, access to communication and justice, culminating in the death of our local leaders who dared to defend their natural resources.

National corruption has converted the Tolupan community into a zone of usurpation, dispossession, theft and sacking of our natural resources. It has condemned to death more than 100 indigenous whose cases have never appeared in court. We have identified our murders but the authorities are accomplices, refusing to act on arrest warrants and to capture them.

With this hunger strike, we ask the national and international community to demand the end of the killing to which the state has condemned us. The hit men are hired by businessmen but they are protected by national and department level authorities who do not uphold the law, but rather use it to terrorize, threaten and murder those who defend the common good and the right to life.

In light of this, we define our struggle in the following terms;

  1. We stand in solidarity with the indignados in favor of the installation of a CICIH and we reject the proposal for a false dialogue on the part of Juan Hernández, who is a principal actor in the grand larceny committed against state institutions.

  1. We condemn the efforts of Prosecutors Oscar Chinchilla and Rigoberto Cuellar as well as Eli Mauricio Murillo, Environmental Prosecutor for Yoro, to leave in full impunity, the murder of 5 compañeros, defenders of human and environmental rights and the right to life.

  1. We demand the capture of Selin Eliazar Fúnez Bonilla and Carlos Roberto Varela Laques, material actors responsible for the murders of María Enriqueta Matute, Ricardo Soto Fúnez and Armando Fúnez Medina as well as the murders of Luis Reyes de Masías and Eracimo Vieda. We will not abandon the hunger strike until these murderers are captured.

  1. We demand compliance with ILO Convention 169 requiring prior, informed consent regarding any extractive activity carried out in the Tolupan community.

fot

 

Advertisements

URGENT ALERT: The Broad Movement for Dignity and Justice (MADJ) informs:

June 19, 2015

URGENT ALERT: The Broad Movement for Dignity and Justice (MADJ) informs:

Today, June 19, 2015 at 5 am indigenous Tolupan, Erasio Vieda Ponce was murdered in Las Brisas of Locomapa in the mountains of Yoro. Vieda Ponce strongly opposed the use of forests by local business and political figures who for years have exploited natural resources, using all manner of criminal methods against the Tolupan people, in particular the indigenous leaders of this sector. There is clear evidence that the assassins are closely linked to the large land holders and business elites and were contracted to kill Ponce. The same assassins are also responsible for the murders of María Enriqueta Matute, Ricardo Soto and Armando Fúnez in 2013 for defending the forest.

We want to denounce that since 2013, we identified Selvin Matute and Carlos Matute as directly responsible for those murders and warrants have been issued for their arrest. However, the national police have not arrested them despite testimonies from members of the indigenous community assuring that they are also responsible for the murder of Erasio Vieda. The alleged suspects enter and leave the area, carrying out these crimes, threatening and terrorizing the community. They remain in strategic hiding places, with the knowledge and tolerance of members of the police of Yoro who have been assigned in an irregular manner, to provide security and to capture the suspects.

Today, with greater imperative, we hold the State of Honduras and its representatives in the office of the Attorney General of Human Rights, Yoro, Secretary of Justicia, Attorney General for Ethnic Groups, National Police.

and the other institutions responsible for the investigation and prosecution of crime, access to justice and citizen security. We have presented all of the evidence merited in these cases and taken action in international human rights platforms (IACHR) resulting in the issuance of protective measures for the indigenous leaders under threat. State functionaries have not implemented protective measures in a responsible manner, elevating the vulnerability of the indigenous to such a degree that in the month of May,

Luis de Reyes Marcía, husband of Consuelo Soto, was murdered and two weeks after burying her husband, she was the target of an attack on her home by the same assassins forcing her and her entire family to flee the zone.

While the level of conflict intensifies in the zone, evidenced by the number crimes in the last three months, there is neither response nor direct intervention on the part of the Secretary of Justice whose staff has demonstrated complete negligence in response to the requests for security and justice that the Tolupan people demand.

Once again we demand that the State of Honduras fulfill its functions and capture those responsible for these deaths.

¡¡WE ARE FED UP WITH LIES AND THE DEATHS OF OUR INDIGENOUS COMPAÑER@S!!

Community of Locomapa: Impunity, violence and harassment continue against Tolupán indigenous

June 17, 2015
Photo: MADJ

Photo: MADJ

On April 11, 2015, PROAH accompanied an activity organized by the Preventative Council of the Tolupán Tribe of San Francisco de Locomapa and MADJ (Broad Movement for Dignity and Justice), which included a walk along one of the tribal boundary lines in recognition of their lands.

The activity included a homage for Luis de Reyes Marcía, Tolupán indigenous member of the community of Locomapa, Yoro, who was assassinated on April 4, 2015. Luis is the fourth land rights defender murdered in this small community, following the murder of three of his companions in the land struggle, in 2013.

Two years after the murders of three Tolupán land rights defenders in 2013, these crimes remain in impunity:

On August 25, 2013 three indigenous Tolupán were murdered by gunfire in the community of Locomapa, Yoro, in northern Honduras. The victims were María Enriqueta Matute, Armando Fúnez Medina, and Ricardo Soto Fúnez. They, along with other members of the Tribe of San Francisco de Locomapa, were organizing to protect natural resources and to oppose the illegal mining of antimony and logging on their communal lands. The murders occurred after 12 days of protest by the community, peacefully blocking the road. Witnesses testify that the murders were committed by two men belonging to a group that works for the mine and powerful business interests in the region. (see PROAH article 2013).

In response to a petition for protection for the community issued by MADJ, in December 2013 the Inter American Human Rights Commission (IACHR) issued protective measures for 18 members of the community and their families, a total of 38 people. On February 22, 2014, in a public ceremony, which PROAH team members attended as international observers, Honduran authorities committed to fulfill their obligation to protect those under threat and to capture the suspected assassins.

However, the State of Honduras has not fulfilled its obligation to implement protective measures. The situation of impunity and extreme vulnerability of the community continues. Following the three murders, several families had to flee the zone for six months; one person exiled from Locomapa, has not yet been able to return. Two years after the crime, the alleged assassins, for whom arrest warrants have been issued, remain at large in the community; they and others in their group, continue to harass and threaten those who oppose mining, creating a state of terror in the community.

Another land defender murdered

On April 4, 2015, tragedy struck the community again: another member of the community, Luis de Reyes Marcía, was killed.

His body was found, brutally murdered with several stab wounds in the thorax and neck.

Luis Marcía was the husband of Vilma Consuelo Soto, a beneficiary of protective measures by the IACHR and an active member of MADJ. Her family had returned to their land on February 22, 2014 after being forcibly displaced for six months due to death threats. On returning, Consuelo Soto and Luis Marcía continued with the land struggle. Just before his murder, Luis and Consuelo had presented a complaint to the local police regarding new death threats and damage to their crops. The principal suspect for his murder is part of the same group that constantly intimidates the community.

Consuelo Soto.

Consuelo Soto.

On May 22, just six weeks after the murder of her husband, Consuelo Soto suffered another attack. According to Consuelo, a neighbor who was bothered by a visit of the District Attorney for Ethnic Groups, investigating the murder of her husband, came to her house where she was with her two grandchildren, and fired on them three times. Consuelo Soto threw herself to the ground with the two children to protect them. She fled to the home of another neighbor and then had to leave the community (listen to her testimony here, Radio Progreso). It is supposed that the gunman is also part of the group working for powerful business interests.

The police and authorities responsible for investigating these crimes and protecting the population receive constant complaints from members of MADJ and are well informed about activity in the zone. However, they constantly cite difficulties that impede their work: lack of personnel, vehicle etc. For MADJ, this reflects a lack of will on the part of the State of Honduras. According to Víctor Fernández, attorney for the organization, “many efforts have been made to compel the State to assume its responsibility to implement protective measures but it has not done so. The situation is getting worse.”(see Radio Progreso)

Those who struggle for land rights in the community live in an extreme state of insecurity. At least eleven community leaders have received death threats. Another actor who harasses the community is Finlander Uclés, a retired general who claims rights to community lands (see PROAH article June, 2014.) Recently, Mr. Finlander issued death threats against two members of the community, who are also members of MADJ and beneficiaries of IACHR protective measures.

Photo MADJ, Protest in front of the Public Ministry, May 12, 2015

Photo MADJ, Protest in front of the Public Ministry, May 12, 2015

Due to the situation of extreme vulnerability for the Tolupanes of Locomapa, MADJ demands: that authorities duly investigate the 2013 and 2015 murders; arrest warrants issued for the capture of those responsible for these crimes be acted on; the responsibility to implement protective measures and guarantee the safety and integrity of beneficiaries be fulfilled; and finally that the companies illegally exploiting natural resources in the zone be removed as they are causing violence and conflict.

For more information:

Movimiento Amplio por la Dignidad y la Justicia, MADJ:

VIDEO on the land rights struggle of the community of Locomapa: https://www.facebook.com/MADJhn/videos/10207298064316136/

Comunicado April 5, 2015: “Dan muerte violentamente a indigena Tolupán en Locomapa,Yoro.”

Red nacional de Defensoras de derechos humanos en Honduras: Alert, June 4, 2015: Todas Somos Consuelo

Radio Progreso, April 10, 2015: Ante muerte de Tolupanes, Estado no atiende ni actúa

First anniversary of the killings in Locomapa

September 1, 2014

*This reflection was written by Lucy Edwards (PROAH, Hope in Action, Congregational United Church of Christ, Ashland, Oregon)

One year ago, on the afternoon of Sunday, August 25, 2013, three Honduran indigenous Tolupan leaders were gunned down by armed men. The tribe of San Francisco Locomapa had initiated a roadblock in their community to prevent illegal mining and logging of their communal lands.

Two men working for the mine came down on motorcycle and opened fire on the group, catching Ricardo Soto Funes and Armando Funes Medina as they took cover in elder Maria Enriqueta Matute’s yard. Maria was in her kitchen when she was shot. The next morning (Monday, 8/26/13) I accompanied Radio Progreso staff to claim the bodies and return them to be waked and buried in Locomapa.

This year on the first anniversary of the murders, the community, working with Movimiento Amplio por la Dignidad y la Justicia (MADJ), held a commemorative march which three members of the PROAH team accompanied. (From France, USA and Switzerland).

mov locomapa

Tolupan adults and children held and lit twigs cut from their pine trees, their source of energy and light. They re-lit them along the route at selected locations. The sweet smelling smoke provided a comforting visible presence. Someone mentioned during the ceremony that they would typically do this commemorative walk at night, but it is not safe to do so.

When the march reached Maria Enriqueta Matute’s house, where all three died last year, the twig torches were all gathered into a small bonfire.

The two men who opened fire that day at Maria Enriqueta’s house are still free and operate in the community. There is an order for their capture, but the police have not been able to act on it, perhaps for a few reasons. For one, they explain that they have no vehicle.  There are concerns that they are complicit, and/or worried for their own security.

Two police officers accompanied the procession. I asked one officer about the murders, and he said that the perpetrators had left the area.  I mentioned that the community reports seeing them regularly, at which point he mentioned the police transportation issues, no vehicle.

Near the end the procession, I walked with an elder woman named Maria Petrona. Several little children, came up to her and said “tia” (Aunt) and she would put her hand on their forehead, in a blessing form. Maybe five little girls did this. She turned to me and said they were all family.

Later we found each other again, in our search for shade. We were at the place where the two men had died, next to Maria Enriqueta’s little house.  It was here that Maria Patrona explained that she is the older sister of Maria Enriqueta. Tears streamed down both our faces as she described how the bullet holes are still there, in the wall of her kitchen. She took my hand, took me there and showed me. She stood just where her sister had been, where she fell dead on the floor in the doorway of her kitchen. I could see a bullet hole just above her shoulder. Another was hidden by her body.

Locomapa.bulletholes

A soft yellow color of the kitchen walls is on most of the houses in the community. It is the color of the clay of their tribal lands, of the earth to which they are so deeply connected.

San Francisco de Locomapa: Impunity and new threats.

June 24, 2014

 

Government failure to implement IACHR precautionary measures strengthens impunity and creates greater insecurity.

On February 22, the people of Locomapa celebrated the return of six of seven community members forced to flee after the murders of Enrique Maria Matuta, Armando Medina, and Ricardo Soto Funez on August 24, 2013. The murders of the indigenous Tolupanes occurred after 21 days of peaceful protest by the community in rejection of mining activity and illegal logging on their tribal lands.

The Honduran government, represented by an official commission (including the vice minister of the Ministry of Human Rights, Justice, Governance, and Decentralization; members of the Ministry of Security; the Attorney General’s office; the Public Ministry’s Office of Ethnic and Cultural Heritage; and the regional delegate of the National Commissioner of Human Rights) solemnly pledged before the community, members of MADJ (Broad Movement for Dignity and Justice, which supports the community), and other national and international organizations – among those, PROAH – to ensure the safety of the thirty-eight beneficiaries of precautionary measures granted by the IACHR and to arrest and sentence those responsible for the three murders.1

However, four months after the pledge to implement IACHR precautionary measures, the threats and vulnerability of the community continue. The police responsible for the investigation into the murders and protection of the threatened community members showed confusion between ‘protective measures’ and ‘alternative measures’ (to prison), and not until May, did police express the idea of creating a list of the beneficiaries of precautionary measures for the first time. At the same time, the police are evasive when asked questions regarding the progress of the investigation. They cite various difficulties impeding their work: lack of staff, lack of equipment, and lack of accessibility to the community. However, some of these difficulties were addressed when they received a motorcycle in order to reach the community. They seemed to have no difficulties in visiting PROAH accompaniers in May.

Although the police investigation is required as part of the implementation of precautionary measures and the commitment of the state to protect the Tolupan community, the two alleged perpetrators of the August 2013 massacre, who have warrants for their arrest, remain free in the community, intimidating those in opposition of the mining project. They regularly approach them, close enough to threaten them and so that community members are able to identify them. Therefore, anyone in the community can provide a precise physical description of the perpetrators, which could help a serious police investigation. But, the case does not advance.

More acts of intimidation:

On March 27, Selvin Funez Matute, one of the alleged murderers, approached a member of MADJ threatening to take him and three other community members from their homes and cut their tongues out if they continued to talk to Radio Progreso.

Various community members also confirmed that the Matutes fired shots into the air near the homes of the families in opposition of the mining company, threatening to kill them if they called the police. Even though various families reported these acts of intimidation, the police stated that they had not received any calls and expressed doubt regarding the veracity of the community’s claims.

During PROAH’s latest visit, the community confirmed that the Matutes continue to pass through San Francisco de Locomapa, stopping at night to visit their various girlfriends. During one of these visits, one of the alleged perpetrators stopped twice near the land of one of the community members, showing him the firearms he had, presumably to intimidate him.

The concerns expressed by human rights organizations regarding the community’s safety were unfortunately confirmed on June 9 when ex-general Finlander Uclès, armed and accompanied by bodyguards, entered into the home of one of the families. They circled the house, destroyed their crops and family belongings, and took their work equipment. The ex- general also psychologically tortured the three children of the family who were found alone in the house at that moment, telling them that they would return the following day to destroy everything because the land belonged to the general. The children left running, frightened, in order to alert the community to what had occurred. According to MADJ’s report, the ex-general claims property of the land that legally belongs to the family, and has been threatening the community since 1980. The fatherof the victimized family is a beneficiary of precautionary measures granted by IACHR, as are all community members who have received threats. Following this incident, the family has been displaced from the community.2

The impunity enjoyed by the perpetrators of the triple murder and the lack of application of protective measures mandated by IACHR have once again increased tension and insecurity in the community. Four months after the government’s commitment to ensure the security of the community, the last exiled community member still has not returned to Locomapa. He expressed to PROAH his fear and sadness at not being able to return to his home. Faced with the police’s inaction, the people begin to question their relationship with the perpetrators of the murders and the business interests. MADJ condemns “the Honduran government for continually failing to respond to the complaints filed by the Tolupán people as well as its failure to address the threats targeted at them”.

For more information, in Spanish:

Impunidad reina en asesinatos de indígenas (June, 2014)

“Defensores Tolupanes reciben nuevas amenazas”, Sandra Cuffie, April 2014

SAN FRANCISCO DE LOCOMAPA: DISPLACED TOLUPANES RETURN TO THEIR LANDS WITH IACHR PRECAUTIONARY MEASURES

March 19, 2014

DSC05386

On February 23, in response to an invitation from the Broad Movement for Dignity and Justice (MADJ), PROAH observed a publicly organized event for the return of indigenous Tolupan members to their community in San Francisco de Locomapa, Yoro.

Last year, members of the community were forced to flee Locomapa following the assassination of three members of the community, Maria Enriqueta Matute, Armando Funez Medina, and Ricardo Soto Funez, on August 25, 2013. The triple murder occurred after twelve days of peaceful demonstrations by the community to protest mining and illegal logging on their tribal lands.

In response to a request by MADJ for protection of the community, on December 19, 2013, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights awarded precautionary measures to eighteen community members and their families, thirty-eight people in total.

This gathering, organized for the return of community members who had been forced to flee last year, was attended by a Commission representing the state of Honduras including the vice minister of the the Ministry of Human Rights, Justice, Governance, and Decentralization, members of the Ministry of Security, the Attorney General’s Office, the Public Ministry’s Office of Ethnic and Cultural Heritage; and the regional delegate of the National Commissioner for Human Rights.

This Commission arrived by helicopter and emphasized that it was the first time such a ceremony has been carried out, and that the government is commitment to fulfill its obligation to defend human rights. The deputy superintendent of Yoro, Ventura Rodriguez, also spoke and pledged to capture the alleged murderers and give protection to those threatened.

Coordinator of MADJ and lawyer Victor Fernandez also spoke, emphasizing the responsibility that the Honduran State has to give protection to the thirty-eight people in the zone with protective measures from the IACHR.

After the event, MADJ authorities and representatives signed an agreement, in which these commitments were documented and where the precautionary measures and their content were explained.

DSC05424

Other civil society actors also accompanied the event, including ERIC-Radio Progreso; COPA (Coordination of Popular Organizations of Aguán); the Human Rights Observatory in the Aguán; the Forum of Women for Life; OFRANEH; the coalition against impunity; and a representative of the Honduras Solidary Network in the United States (HSN).

The event ended with the planting of three trees in memory of those murdered last year while peacefully opposing mining efforts.

To date, the alleged murderers have not been arrested, despite arrest warrants in their names. One community member, the MADJ coordinator in Locomapa, who fled following the murders, has not yet returned to the community as he still fears for his life after gunmen hung a note with death threats on the door of his home last September.

More Information:

Our blog : Murder of three Tolupan community members in Locomapa. August 27, 2013.

 artículo de Radio Progreso:

Tolupanes retornan a sus tierras con promesa de seguridad del Estado hondureño

Artículo del MADJ sobre el otorgamiento de medidas cautelares por la CIDH

 Pronunciamiento del MADJ

Mining: Three members of Tolupan indigenous group murdered in Yoro

August 27, 2013

Three indigenous Honduran Tolupan were shot and killed on Sunday, August 25, 2013, at a private residence in Locomapa, Yoro, in northern Honduras. The victims were Maria Enriqueta Matute, 71, from the Community of San Francisco Campo, Armando Funez Medina, 46, of Las Brisas, and Ricardo Soto Funez, 40, of Cabeza de Vaca.

Witnesses say the killings were committed by two local men under contract by wealthy miners illegally extracting the mineral antimony from the lands of the indigenous Tolupan people of Yoro.

This occurs in a context of increasing intimidation and violence against communities which peacefully oppose mining on their territory, a situation which is met with impunity (see latest article on La Nueva Esperanza).

In the case of Locomapa, the community had organized to protect their resources and to oppose mining on their land. They had spoken on the radio, denouncing the illegal exploitation by powerful mining interests and by loggers. Members of the community decided to set up a road block, allowing local traffic, but stopping mining vehicles and illegal loggers. It was on the 12th day of this roadblock that the killings occurred.

According to residents, the shootings allegedly were carried out by hitmen of the mining company. Locals say the two accused live in a nearby community and are corrupt members of the indigenous council who had directly threatened to kill the activists before the shooting, telling the wife of one of the murdered men to prepare the casket.

Families mourn for three community members killed while opposing illegal mining (PROAH)

Families mourn for three community members killed while opposing illegal mining

Eyewitnesses say the two perpetrators arrived at the roadblack on motorcycle at 5:30 Sunday afternoon, drunk, and opened fire on the dozen or so activists there. Two men died in the entryway to Maria Enriqueta Matute’s house. Then she was shot as she came out to see what was happening.

The two suspects remained free Monday, and reportedly returned to the same house three times, to threaten and intimidate the grieving families who were awaiting the bodies from the morgue.

Caskets carrying the remains were transported by pickup to the community Monday night, where the three were waked at the house where they died. They were buried Tuesday morning, August 27.

The local community and human rights organizations are asking for justice in the case. Several other community members have been directly threatened by the same men.